Thursday, October 20, 2016

Burying Tom and Going Home #Throwback Thursday

As I think about the coming day when I will spread my husband's ashes upon the graves of his beloved horses, I remember when Tom died and want to share with you a poem I wrote at the time about burying him.

It was years ago I wrote this poem.  We live on a different farm now and Gary's ashes will join horses that joined us later in life than Tom.  However, I have no doubt that Gary was welcomed "home" and I like to think he's mowing hay or plowing with the horses he loved right now.
Gary waving from the hay mower with Tim and Tom. The dogs are Sherman & Spanky

Our Belgian draft horses, Tim and Tom, spent their whole lives together.  Born on the same farm and matched up as a team, they ate, slept, worked and played together.  

When Tom died at age 29, Tim was present as our vet administered the euthanasia drugs.  

He was present as we buried him 

And as we mourned, so did Tim.

Tim stood guard at Tom's grave for weeks sending heart breaking whinnies into the skies.  Tim was never the same and we had no doubt he spent the rest of his own life missing his partner.

Burying Tom

Before we covered him with the sheets,
we pillowed his head on fresh cut cedar boughs.
And carefully arranged his legs
that ran like fire across these fields.
A thick covering of cedar boughs,
their feathery softness more for us than him.

Stepping out, we lean hard against the shovels,
our breath coming in frosted clouds,
then gather ourselves and continue with picks and shovels
down through the ice and snow
through thick oak and thin persimmon roots.

Before we shovel him out of sight, we talk to him.
We invent our own mythology, his and ours.
We tell him when it's our turn
to enter the darkness, unlike that fierce dog
who guards the gates of Hell,

He'll be the welcoming one
at the dim edge of the other side.

When we are still stunned and smelling of earth
he'll come and lead us the way he did
when we took our long hayrides
and he turned us out of the tangled woods
into the wide bright fields
toward home.


  1. Oh Sue, this touches my soul and speaks to my truth which touches your truth - that some animals grieve loss both of their own kind and of their humans; there are physical and energy gaps - spaces that wordlessly bump into each other when someone we love and/or when an animal we've loved passes from this earth and moves on. Quite a few years ago, my 11 year old whippet, Josephine, died in my kitchen, one morning as my son and I were feeding the other dogs and cats while she lay, stretched out in the Great Dane sized wire crate that held pride of place at one end of the kitchen, that crate a silent witness to Great Danes we'd loved. Josephine loved to lay in that crate and, on that morning, knowing that her time was near, I kept careful watch. Suddenly, her chest stopped its rise and fall - and as I realized that her heart had stopped, I looked over at my son and said, "She's gone..." and less than a heart beat later, I watched as her "life's essence" rose from her still body and made its way upward. I saw what looked like a shimmering, pale white shadow of her rise up, leaving her body behind.

    1. Though I can't say I've ever literally seen a spirit, I have felt them. I certainly believe that animals grieve for their human and animal companions and wrote about that in another blog post. I also truly have no doubt that Tom (and Tim) lead Gary to the other side, while Jeffie was right there at Gary's side.

  2. Tears. This poem has such emotional honesty and depth. It's so sad but so beautiful. I can smell the cedar.

  3. Oh Sue, goes straight to the heart. Take care, Terri

  4. I can't type through my tears. What a beautiful sentiment and post. Hugs to you my friend.

  5. How wonderful and sad all in one. Just beautiful.

  6. Knew I'd cry while reading this so waited until *after* running my errands. That's so sad and beautiful. Poor Tim, mourning his dear friend. I love the image of though of the horses leading the way 'home." Hope you are hanging in there okay.

  7. Beautiful. I hope your heart and spirit are doing OK. Thinking of you.

  8. Sue, so beautiful....gave me chills. It also is comforting. I hope that in your heartbreak it offered you some semblance of comfort too. Love you my friend (((hugs)))

  9. My heart goes out to you and Tim. Beautiful, sad and heartbreaking poem that speaks so much truth about loss.

  10. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and heartfelt emotions you created with this poem. Prayers remain with you.

  11. What a beautiful poem you wrote for tom. I'm sure he was at the gates waiting for gary. What a touching and loving post! Hope your doing well, thinking of you and sending hugs!

  12. This brought tears but also smiles. The love they all shared was very touching. Thank you for sharing a very sweet and loving post. Sam and I send digital pup kisses and hugs. ღ


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